This may be coming to you at precisely the right time. Or this may be something you’ll need at a later date. Either way, one thing is for certain: Workout motivation is finite.
When was the last time you had a workout slump? When you didn’t have motivation to work out and your usual drive and enthusiasm wasn’t there? It seemingly vanished, like a well that’s run dry.
Everyone has them. Sometimes they last days, weeks, months.
Three years. That’s how long one of my workout slumps lasted. Three. Whole. Years. I had zero motivation to work out. Whereas my previous workout motivation was fueled by performance-based goals, there weren’t any I cared to achieve. It didn’t matter what I tried to do — use new exercises, equipment, rep ranges, training splits — nothing reignited the spark that made me look forward to, and enjoy, working out.
Throughout that three-year workout slump, I made myself work out three times per week. It was purely the deeply ingrained workout habit that kept me going.
I didn’t want to work out, but that didn’t matter. I was going to anyway.
During that three-year period, I coasted. I didn’t write down any workouts I performed, I didn’t follow a set plan, I didn’t push myself incredibly hard, I didn’t strive for personal records. And that was okay. Because I was still moving my body consistently, investing in self-care, and keeping an important health-promoting habit alive.
Coasting was better than quitting.
When workout motivation is nonexistent, or on life support, or Real-Life Stuff is zapping your usual energy, it’s okay to coast with your workouts.
Keep showing up, do what you can. Abolish any notion that you have to do A, B, and C or that you must achieve X, Y, and Z. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary frustration by piling on demands and expectations. You don’t have to be “going hard” and crushing personal records and pushing yourself to new levels to reap rewards. Coasting still provides benefits.
Can You Reignite Workout Motivation?
If you’ve been coasting for a while you may want to try to rediscover workout motivation. There are things you can try …
Focus on performance, not chasing a smaller number on the scale. Tons of women get burned out with strength training for the simple fact that working out was always about burning calories, losing fat, shrinking down. That “be less” mentality gets old, quickly. Discover instead what your body can do.
Follow a done-for-you workout program. If you have a lot going on in your life, perhaps the last thing you need to think about is what to do for your workouts. Take the guesswork out of it, and follow a plan.
Do less, but better. If you can’t, or don’t want to, devote one hour to working out, then perform fewer exercises per workout and do them better with higher intensity. My all-time go-to workout format for such occasions: the 3x3x3 format. Perform three weekly workouts consisting of three exercises each (e.g.: squat variation, bench press or push-up, row or pulldown), for three sets each. That’s “only” nine sets per workout, but if you give them your best effort, the results may speak for themselves.
Join a coaching group so you have support. Sometimes having someone you can quickly reach out to is enough to keep you forging onward. (You can join us in the Lift Like a Girl coaching group if you prefer everything on an easy-to-use app, or check out The Beautiful Badass Lab if you prefer printable workout logs.)
Do something completely different. Maybe you did mostly bodybuilding-type workouts: Try a strength-focused program. Maybe you need to try a new training split, or learn new exercises, or try new rep ranges, or perform three workouts per week instead of four. Sometimes you need to shake out the cobwebs with a fresh routine.
But remember, there’s nothing wrong with coasting for a bit and riding it out. There is no shame in continuing to show up and putting in some work without expectations and rigorous demands. You can always try one of the tactics mentioned above to ignite training motivation in the future.